John Oliver and HBO’s Last Week Tonight had a First Amendment right to call coal king Robert Murray a “geriatric Dr. Evil” and ridicule his Murray Energy Corporation in a scathing segment last June, says the West Virginia judge presiding over Murray’s defamation lawsuit.
Judge Jeffrey Cramer of West Virginia’s second judicial circuit notified attorneys on both sides of the dispute this week that HBO’s motion to dismiss the suit would be granted.
Ruled Cramer: “I find the arguments set forth in the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and Reply well-founded, appropriate in this matter and will grant the same. The Court adopts, with little exception, Defendants’ argument in support of their Motion regarding all issues addressed in the same.”
In the June 18 segment, Oliver lambasted the litigious Murray, his business, safety standards and the coal industry. In a follow-up segment, Oliver said, “And I know you’re probably going to sue me over this. But, you know what? I stand by everything I said.”
Murray did indeed sue, filing a defamation suit in West Virginia against Oliver, HBO and Time Warner, calling the segment a “meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation” of the energy titan and his various companies.
Said HBO at the time, “We have confidence in the staff of Last Week Tonight and do not believe anything in the show this week violated Mr. Murray’s or Murray Energy’s rights.”
Watch Oliver’s coal segment above.